Thursday, September 22, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S Infuse 4G Review

In many life situations the phrase "less is more" is often stated where holding back is advantageous. Don't tell that to Samsung, as it seems "more is more" is their mantra of choice when it come to smartphone displays. That being said, enter the Samsung Galaxy S Infuse 4G, a gargantuan phone equipped with a titanic 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus Display. Being somewhat of a "middle" child between the original Galaxy S series and the new Galaxy S II the question remains whether the Infuse 4G can be successful on looks alone.

Overall Construction
Unofficially dubbed the Samsung Galaxy S 1.5, the name is quite accurate for several reasons. It's clear that when Samsung had the Galaxy S II on the drawing board, many of its design traits were passed on to the Infuse 4G.

Measuring in at a very slender 8.9mm thin, the Infuse 4G will fit some the tightest of tight jeans (although not recommended). Given that is it in the same styling as the Galaxy S II some might find it a bit unyielding to hold such a large device and again like the Galaxy S II we found no issues in everyday use. Like the Galaxy S II, the ergonomics including the "butt" are quite sound.

Weighing in at 130g, the Infuse 4G is remarkably light for a device this large. It certainly feels like a smaller device when holding it in the hand. This will certainly be a plus for many people who want their phone to be light regardless of dimensions and the Infuse 4G certainly delivers.

Once again, like the Galaxy S II the Infuse 4G sports a flexible textured back cover that is firmly locked in when the back is closed off. We would have like to see some sort of design lineage from the Captivate make its way to the Infuse 4G, like the metallic back cover, but the textured back is a satisfactory middle ground.

Samsung Galaxy S Infuse 4G

To cut to the chase, the Galaxy S Infuse 4G's screen is its claim to fame. If there is any reason to buy this phone it's because you want a large 4.5-inch mammoth sized display. But size isn't all it has to offer (that's what she said!), the Infuse 4G has the best in class Super AMOLED Plus display.

As with the Galaxy S II the Super AMOLED Display is simply fantastic. There is simply isn't a better display technology out there right now. Forget about Super LCD, IPS, etc because Super AMOLED Plus is simply in a class of its own.

The Infuse 4G's display knocks colors, black levels, contrast and brightness out of the park. Many will argue that there is an over saturation in colors producing unrealistic colour reproductions but honestly the vibrancy of pictures and videos is simply too good to pass up over such a small detail.

Unfortunately one issue we can't really overlook is the 800x480 WVGA resolution. While it was borderline forgivable on the Galaxy S II's 4.3-inch display, the Infuse's 4.5-inch display really starts to show the lower pixel density. At a paltry 207 pixels per inch, the sharpness simply isn't at the level of a phone like the HTC Sensation 4G, Motorola Atrix 4G or iPhone 4.

Single-touch and multi-touch gestures were all very accurate. Pretty much status quo for any given high end Android device.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S II the Infuse 4G follows the North American Galaxy S layout of Android buttons with capacitive Menu, Home, Back and Search buttons. There is the usual volume rocker on the left as well as our usual pet peeve power button on the right. Capacitive buttons were responsive and well spaced out and the physical buttons were good.

Battery Life
If there is an aspect where the Infuse 4G is clearly superior it's the battery life. With the increased handset size, a hefty 1750mAh (100 mAh better than the Galaxy S II) packs the Infuse 4G with more than enough juice to power the handset for whole day. With light use we would not be surprised to see the Infuse 4G get through two straight days.

Internal Hardware
Where the Infuse 4G sort of fall (way) short compared to the Galaxy S II is in hardware. By all account, the Infuse 4G is a slightly refreshed Galaxy S. But one has to remember the Samsung Galaxy had a top notch single core chipset, so giving it a frequency boost to 1.2GHz should give a decent boost in performance.

- 1.2 GHz Samsung Hummingbird Processor
- 512MB of RAM
- 16GB of Internal storage expandable with microSD card slot upgradable to up to 32GB
- PowerVR SGX540 Graphic processor
- 21.1Mbps HSPA+ capable chipset
- Wi-Fi b/g/n
- 8MP auto-focus camera with LED flash and 720p HD video capabilities

Overall performance of the Infuse 4G is quite good. In fact, we would go as far to say it's probably the best single core smartphone available on the market. Now that being said, 3D performance leaves a bit to be desired when compared to the Galaxy S II but is really sufficient for the vast majority of games available on the market.

It also seems like the GPS issue on the Infuse 4G seems to be fixed but still lags behind competitor handsets in GPS locking time.

HSPA+ "4G" Capabilities
After our friends in the US (T-Mobile then AT&T) decided to call HSPA+ "4G" and the ITU caved in to the marketing ploy it was only a matter of time till our carriers in Canada did the same. The Infuse 4G is one of the first phones on Rogers to be explicitly marketed as a 4G device.

That being said, the Infuse 4 does pretty well in the speed tests we ran. The speeds weren't mind blowingly fast but certainly were decent although a tad inconsistent.

Remember that this is only a small test sample in Montreal in various areas with excellent to decent HSPA+ coverage so your experience may differ.

Speaker and microphone
Nothing much to report other than status quo. Loud speaker and earpiece outputted good volume while the microphone delivered decent quality sound.

Taking another cue from the Galaxy S II the Infuse 4G also sports a 8MP camera that is most likely the exact same sensor as the Galaxy S II. This of course meant some great quality stills in almost every test condition. Be it low light, indoor, outdoor, sunny day or overcast the Infuse 4G's camera delivered fantastic stills that can replace many point and shoots.

Video on the other hand is maxed out a tamer 720p on the Infuse 4G. We suspect that the CPU power required for 1080p recording at 30fps would simply be too taxing to the older Huminngbird CPU. Quality was good but a bit flaky at times. By flaky we mean that sometimes videos came out very choppy while other times (often after a reboot) it came out great. It could possibly be the result of some apps installed or a problem isolated to our test unit. We believe it to be because of the latter, since most other reviews have reported excellent video capture with the Infuse 4G

The 1.3MP front facing camera isn't the same as the one on the Galaxy S II and doesn't provide as good still shots but will certainly suffice for video chat and the always popular low quality vanity shot.

Sample Pictures


Samsung TouchWiz 3.0 /w Android 2.3
This sections was by far the hardest to tackle and really one I avoided as long as I could. But here I am having to type away about TouchWiz 3.0 and Android 2.3 on the Infuse 4G. Now the reason for my apprehension is pretty simple, TouchWiz for all the hate it gets from Android purists has really improved in the latest iteration of Samsung's latest user interface. That being said this phone doesn't have it.

Not that TouchWiz 3.0 is horrible, but it certainly feels dated compared to TouchWiz 4.0. From the accelerometer/gyroscope gestures to the more polished Widgets and UI tweaks, 3.0 seems like a huge step back from 4.0.

That being said, there surely are people who like TouchWiz in every one of its forms but I'm not a fan of 3.0. It doesn't hamper the phone's performance in any way so we will forgive Samsung for not putting 4.0 on the Infuse.

On an interesting note, we are told that the reason that the Infuse was so late to come to Canada compared to the AT&T version was that Rogers insisted that the Infuse launch with the latest version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread which we are very pleased to see. If this in fact is true (and is quite plausible), big props to Rogers for recognizing that it is far too late in the Andorid game to put out an Android 2.2 device and expect it to compete with the likes of the Sensation 4G, EVO 3D and of course Galaxy S II.

For a more comprehensive overview of TouchWiz 3.0 check out our Fascinate 4G review and for a more detailed overview of TouchWiz 4.0 check out our Galaxy S II review.


It really is unfortunate for the Galaxy S Infuse 4G that we only got to review it after the Galaxy S II, because for everything that the Galaxy S Infuse 4G did well, the Galaxy S II simply did it better. That's not saying that the Infuse 4G is a bad phone. In fact, it is far from that, the Infuse 4G is a quality piece of technology.

Ultimately the Infuse 4G will probably be overshadowed by Rogers' incoming LTE devices including the LTE capable Samsung Galaxy S II and a still to be announced offering from HTC. In the end, the Infuse 4G is somewhat of a "sheep in wolf's clothing", looking and feeling like a Galaxy S II but not equipped with the latest TouchWiz and certainly doesn't match it as far as hardware is concerned.

Like the Xperia Arc, the Infuse 4G can be considered something of a fringe "high-end" device. High end Dual-Core offerings from Rogers like the HTC EVO 3D and again, the soon to come Galaxy S II LTE push down the Infuse 4G to more of a stud midrange device. If you absolutely need a large screen smartphone RIGHT NOW with great battery life and don't really need a dual core phone the Infuse 4G is a good choice but if you want cutting edge tech we recommend waiting for the Rogers Samsung Galaxy S II LTE.

Final Verdict
Overall Appearance: 8.5/10
- Thin, light, solid build BUT a tad plasticky, could have used some more premium materials. 4.5-inch form factor isn't for everyone.

Screen: 9.5/10
- Has the same best in class Super AMOLED Plus screen as the Galaxy S II but on a 4.5-inch screen the WVGA 800x480 screen really pushes limits of minimum pixel density.

Buttons: 9/10
- Responsive capacitive Android buttons, good volume rocker, same pet peeve power button placement.

Internal Hardware: 8/10
- HSPA+ speeds were fairly good, although a bit inconsistent. Hardware is probably as good as it will get in terms of Single Core performance. Great battery life.

Speaker and Microphone: 8.5/10
- Earpiece and microphone were good and decent at max sound. Exterior speaker is quite good.

Camera: 9/10
- Outstanding stills, like the Galaxy S II, a bit finicky on the 720p recording, sometimes delivering good and other times delivering choppy video.

UI Changes: 7.5/10
- The good ol' TouchWiz 3.0 that people either love or hate BUT has Android 2.3 out of the box.

Addition Enhancements: 7.5 /10
- Flash performance is surprisingly decent. Nice addition of Swype.

Included Apps/Bloatware: 9.5/10
- Just about completely devoid of bloatware (only preloaded with My Account and urMusic app). Great on Rogers/Samsung for providing as pristine an install of Android as we've seen on an Android smartphone in Canada.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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